Chemotherapy against cancer during pregnancy: A systematic review on neonatal outcomes


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Abstract

Background:The concomitant incidence of cancer and pregnancy has increased in recent years because of the increase in maternal age at the time of the 1st pregnancy. The diagnosis of cancer in a pregnant woman causes ethical and therapeutic problems for both the patient and the physician. The main aim of this paper is to describe the available evidence concerning the short- and long-term neonatal impact of chemotherapy given to pregnant women.Methods:The relevant publications in English were identified by a systematic review of MEDLINE and PubMed for the last 15 years. The search strategy included “cancer[Title/Abstract] OR tumor[Title/Abstract] AND pregnancy[Title/Abstract] OR pregnant[Title/Abstract] AND embryo[Title/Abstract] or fetus[Title/Abstract] or neonate[Title/Abstract] or newborn[Title/Abstract] or pediatric[Title/Abstract] or child[Title/Abstract] AND English[lang].”Results:An analysis of the literature showed that only the administration of chemotherapy during the embryonic stage of conceptus is dangerous and can lead to the termination of the pregnancy. When the disease is diagnosed in the 2nd or 3rd trimester of gestation or when it is possible to delay the initiation of chemotherapy beyond the 14th week, the risk of severe problems for the fetus are low, and pregnancy termination is not required.Conclusion:Data regarding the final outcome of children who have received in utero chemotherapy seem reassuring. Only the administration in the embryonal stage of conceptus is dangerous and can lead to the termination of pregnancy. When the disease is diagnosed in the 2nd or 3rd trimester of gestation or when it is possible to delay the initiation of chemotherapy beyond the 14th week, the risk of severe problems for the fetus are low and pregnancy termination is not needed. Increased knowledge of how to minimize the risks of chemotherapy can reduce improper management including unnecessary termination of pregnancy, delayed maternal treatment, and iatrogenic preterm delivery.

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